They always say that they want to change just one thing. They wanna go back in time and change the test answer or wake up earlier or don't drink too much or kiss their crush or... They want a lot of things, but the fact is that you can still do things, it's not like your crush is dead or you're not able to change it. Well, sometimes it is like that. Sometimes you want to change the day everything went bad. You'd do anything for a chance of happiness with the special person. Literally anything.
Long cases never broke the men of NCIS, specially not a silver-haired ex-marine named Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Somehow it was different. There was two things – first the deceased was named Jennifer, second – she was a redhead ja third – she had a kid, who was also killed. That was when it reminded him 3 women of his life – Shannon, Kelly and Jenny. He was exhausted mentally and physically and that was the moment, when he realized that he'd do anything to get back what he wants and at this moment it's Jenny. Her death is still fresh in his mind – it has been months since that happened, only months, when she was in LA with Mike and faced Svetlana's payback. Somehow it felt like it was his fault, because he knew, that she didn't like killing people and he killed Anatoly – Svetlana's lover. Somehow he can't blame her, because if someone had killed Jenny in Paris, Gibbs would have killed the killer. He gets it, but it doesn't mean that he likes it.
The drive home was quiet. For once he drove like normal people do and he had the radio on. It didn't help either, when French songs came and Paris was all in his mind again – late mornings in bed, romantic dinners, the Eiffel tower, walks along the Seine, living like there is no tomorrow. Oh yeah, they were so in love – they were the best team. She was true love, not just a fling to get over some ex. She was real. With Jenny it was never about anyone else. It was not about the job or his mid-age crisis.. it was passion, caring, selfless love really... but then she left.
"Oh, God. I wish she didn't leave. I wish she was mine, but at this moment I'd be happy to see her alive, so I could fix us," he said when tears started coming to his eyes.
Gibbs made a stop to get pizza and then went straight to basement. It was going to be a rough night with his boat, bourbon and pizza. Some crying might be involved too.
Jethro started working on the boat, but somehow ha failed and fell asleep under the boat. Pizza was left unfinished with half of his bourbon by it's side as dreamless sleep claimed him.
He was awaken by his basement door slamming open and someone coming in. He blinked his eyes twice, when he saw the person walking down the stairs in her ridiculously high heels.
"Spent another night in the basement ? Too afraid to come up ?" she asked in a tone, that wasn't good.
"Jen, what are you doing here ?" he asked, when she had reached the boat and he got back the ability to talk.
"You mean, what am I doing in your basement or in our home ?" she asked still mad. Her flaming red hair was long, her emerald eyes had shadows of anger, there were bags under her eyes, hidden loosely by the make-up. She was wearing slippers and pajama.
"Oh... uh ? Our home ?" he asked, stunned as hell.
"You weren't that drunk to forget our marriage ? Probably you don't remember the romantic proposal on top of the Eiffel either... I am not even talking about Beth or Sarah or Mike. You know what mister, you can go back to your mistress. Next time do all of us a favor and stay at her place, so I don't have to explain why daddy is sleeping in the basement, I can just say that he is working. Now get your sorry ass up and face them," Jenny said in anger and stood there with her hands crossed.
"I'm so sorry, Jen. I'm just... What time is it ?" he said still in shock.
"It's 6.42 am, 15th January 2007," she said, still angry at him.
"Okay, okay," he said and stood up slowly.
She came to him and wiped the sawdust off his clothes and fixed his hair in few tough movements.
"Put your sing in the finger," she whispered.
He looked at her hand and saw a wedding ring, but he didn't have one. He went through his pockets and found one similar to the one Jenny was wearing.
She looked at him and gave him the final fix.
"You need a shower and change clothes. I'll wake Beth and Mike. Please try to make time for them this morning and at least pretend that you still love me at their present," she said and started walking in front of him.
What the hell is happening ? It's not 2007 it's 2012 already... Jenny is dead, but she's not ? She's right here, married to him. They have kids ? Beth, Sarah and Mike. Seems like she never left in Paris, that would make... 1999- 2007 – 8 years together, maybe 8 years of marriage ? But how come she was talking about him and his mistress... he loves Jenny ? Always has loved and if they are married, then he wouldn't cheat. He is a bastard, but faithful man. But the same... he has had 3 unsuccessful marriages... No, two – minus Stephanie, because they married after Jenny and if she has been here all the time, then he wouldn't have married Stephanie in the first place...
"Are you going to stay there forever ?" Jenny asked from the top of the stairs.
"Coming," he said and started moving slowly.
Thoughts of what's happening went through his mind. How was this possible ? Is this some kind of dream ? Anyway it's freaky, but there is so much to discover.
The house wasn't like it was. There was life inside. The walls had happy wallpapers, the lights were on, it actually had furniture and pictures. He noticed a picture of himself and Jenny on the living room – they seemed happy. He continued his journey through the stairs to the second floor, where was the bedroom.
He opened the door and saw very different inside – the wallpaper was white, the wedding picture was hanging on the wall, the closet was open and he could see it full of people, a plant was in the corner of the room, some toys were lying on the floor, the bed was not made and one of his suits was lying on it.
Pictures were all around the nightstands. He noticed a picture with 2 kids first. They were about 5 or 6 on the picture. These were probably Beth and Mike, both had dark hair, his blue eyes and bright smile on their faces. Right beside that was another picture taken in Paris – Jenny and Jethro in Paris standing by the fountain, wrapped in each other and their lips meeting. Then there was another Paris picture, with him smiling at the camera and she hiding her face on his shoulder. He remembered the pictures – Ducky had taken them, he had caught them kissing and Jenny was so embarrassed later, so she hid her face, when Ducky took another picture.
Then he saw a picture of a baby girl with big green eyes looking at the camera. She reminded him Jenny. Yeah, this girl was going to break a lot of hearts in the future. Right beside it was a photo of Gibbs and very pregnant Jenny at some kind of ball. Unlike the previous pictures, they weren't smiling.
Gibbs turned his look from the pictures and went to the bathroom for a shower. He noticed her things everywhere beside his. Even her scent was all over the bathroom.
After shower he changed and walked downstairs. He saw Jenny putting away milk and cereal since both kids behind the table already had food in front of them.
"Morning," he said after a moment.
"Daddy," both kids shouted.
"I'll get you coffee" Jenny said after noticing him there. She seemed not angry anymore.
"Thanks," he said and walked to her accepting coffee.
"You're not having any ?" he asked.
"I can't. I'm still breastfeeding Sarah. But I'd die to have some," she said.
"Right," Gibbs said in lack of a better word.
The silence took over the kitchen for a moment, until a cry started coming from upstairs.
"I'll go," Jenny said.
She gave Gibbs a quick kiss on the corner of the mouth and left. Gibbs ran after her and caught her just before the stairs.
"You stay and I'll go," he said.
"Not now Jethro. I'm already tired as hell, I can't argue with you," she said.
"Go to bed and I'll take care of kids," he said simply.
"Unless you have grown yourself breasts with milk, Sarah doesn't want you," she said and walked up the stairs. He was still behind her.
She opened the door and walked to the crib, where a crying infant was.
"Oh, Sarah," she said, when she lifted the baby.
Jenny sat on a rocking chair, pulled her shirt up and started feeding her younger child.
"Yes ?" she asked Gibbs.
Gibbs just kept looking how small Sarah looked and how she kept on sucking.
"You there ?" she asked again.
"Yes. Do you want some privacy ?" he asked.
"Jethro. Are you embarrassed to see me ? Or do you feel guilt watching my breast ?" she asked.
"Come on Jen. I love you, you know that," he said simply.
"Oh, do I ? They way you have been acting since I got pregnant really tells the opposite," she said.
He remembered the picture with no smiles – it should be recent.
"You stay at work during nights, you visit your mistress every now and then. I get it, when I was pregnant and I couldn't have sex, you had needs. You still have. I still have a check up with my doctor to see if I am healing better and I probably can't do anything for awhile. We just have to pretend with the kids until we figure this out," she said calmly.
"No. I won't let you go," he said. "I made an oath and I'm willing to keep it."
"You have said the words 4 times now and our marriage has almost 8 years. Longer than your 2 marriages with Diane and Ginger. Don't worry – with your record, I am happy of those 8 years, I didn't think we'll last 8 months. But then somehow we made it work, when I returned to DC, I got pregnant it was good. We worked well together, of course you got overprotective, when I returned, but it was lovely in a way. But as soon as Hollis had her eye on you and you looked at her, I knew this was coming to an end. Just as wished I got pregnant and you couldn't leave me, so we stayed married for Sarah, but every now and then you kept on sneaking out and staying late at work, you lied to me. I knew you were having an affair and I even didn't know what to do. I still don't know. It hurts to let you go, but the same it's an end of a wonderful journey. I don't regret it most of the time," she said. All the time she kept on looking at Sarah, who indeed looked just like her mother.
"Jen, please. I've been an ass. I'm so sorry for hurting you. Please, give us another chance. I really do love you more than anyone in this world," he said and walked up to her.
He knelt by the chair and looked at her from the lower level.
"How many times have you told that ?" she asked annoyed. "You say it. Be the man I fell in love with for a few days and then you change back again. I don't know if I wanna be mrs. Leroy Jethro Gibbs anymore."
"I won't set you free. Jen, I know you don't want this either, after all I'm supposed to know you better than anyone else. This is the last time you hear it. I really love you and I don't know what I have been thinking, if I've been trying to get rid of you and our wonderful kids," he said. "Sarah is beautiful just like you."
"Twins remind you," she said quietly.
Jenny looked at the now sleeping infant in her lap and smiled. She was a lucky woman with 3 beautiful children and once a loving husband. She had been young and stupid and in love. But everything has to end one day.
She stood up and placed Sarah back in the crib. She stood there awhile longer to watch her baby sleep. Gibbs stood behind her, his breath hot on her neck. He put on hand on top of hers by the crib and the other on her hip. She didn't pull away. His hand traveled to her abdomen to pull her closer, but that movement made her gasp in pain and he felt her stomach muscles contracting.
"What's wrong ?" he asked in fear.
She shook her head and he even didn't know what to do. She turned around and buried her head in his chest. Her hands squeezed the shirt under his jacket. He carefully placed his hands on her back and started running smoothing circles.
"You stupid man. I hate you for having the easy part," she whispered angrily.
"What's wrong Jen ?" he asked in confusion.
"All you had to do was having sex with me. I had to grow huge and after that had an c-section and now this stupid wound has to hurt every time someone touches it. I had to carry those shopping bags and it had to start bleeding again," she explained in whisper.
"Oh," was his reaction.
She finally released him and wiped away the tears that had came to her eyes.
"You should take Beth and Mike to preschool," she said. "And go to work."
"I'm not going to work today. I'll stay right here until we have worked it out," he said.
She merely looked at him before heading towards the hall. He followed her again and they went to the kitchen.
"Get ready, daddy's going to take you," Jenny said and took the empty plates from the table.
"But Aunt Helena was supposed to take us today ?" Mike asked.
"Right, mommy's sorry. She's gonna be here any minute. Go grab your things. Your lunch is on the counter," she said simply.
Mike and Beth ran upstairs to be back just after a silver car pulled up in the driveway. Jenny and Jethro helped them in their winter clothes and off they ran.
Jethro and Jenny were alone.
Jenny started doing the dishes and Jethro walked back to her.
"Jen ?" he asked.
"Yes ?" she replied without turning from the sink
"Feel better ?" he asked.
"I will once I have finished dishes and get my 2 hour sleep," she replied.
"I'll do the dishes. Go sleep," he said.
She simply shook her head.
"I've managed 2 months. I think I can manage one more day," she replied and finished dishes.
Jenny turned, shot him a look and left him alone in the kitchen.
"I have to make it right," he said to himself. He needed to fix him and Jenny even if it was some weird universe he was dropped into.
When he entered the bedroom, she was already under the covers, but she wasn't asleep yet.
"Can I join you ?" he asked.
Hearing no reply, he stripped to his boxers and climbed next to her.
"Are we okay ?" he asked.
"No," she simply said.
"Then let's talk it through," he insisted.
"You know what. I am really tired, so I'll make it fast. You cheated on me, when I was pregnant with your kind. You weren't there when I went into labor after a fall. You didn't hold my hand, when I had a c-section or was in hospital. You were working, but somehow Tony made time to see me, Ziva made time, even McGee came in twice. I had to stay there a week and you came by with flowers and then sorry gotta work. Leon gave you a week off and you weren't there. After the birth, you didn't look at me the same. You were a cold bastard. Yeah, my body is not what it was, but I have carried 3 children, your children. You don't come home every night and if you do, you stay in the basement. My scar didn't heal properly, because I had to do the shopping and comes out that carrying those bags was too much. And you didn't notice anything, because you were too busy screwing your blonde," she said with anger an bitterness in her voice.
"I was an ass, Jen. I'm so so so sorry. I even don't know what to say, but I wanna prove to you that I am sorry. I wanna be a better man, for you," he said in shock. Really, he would have been such a jerk ?
"I don't know if I can trust you," she said and turned to her side.
Gibbs looked at the ceiling for awhile and then turned to her. She had her back to him.
"Come on, you can't sleep like that. I know you. Come here," he said and held his hand so she could curl to herself to him.
"I can't Jethro. Please, I need my sleep," she said and yawned.
A few minutes later she was asleep on her side, with her back to him and he kept on looking at the ceiling. Maybe their marriage wouldn't have been perfect. Maybe he would have been an jack-ass. Maybe he is better alone and she was better with no jerk husband cheating on her. But the question is, why would the Jethro, who married Jen, cheat on her with Hollis. When he was single, he didn't like her that much, but now married... That's just insane.
It was hours later, when Gibbs woke and found no Jenny there. He got up, dressed and went to look for her. He saw Sarah's door open, so he walked in. Jenny was there sitting in the rocking chair with Sarah. He walked up to them and saw both of them sleeping. Carefully she took the baby without waking Jenny and then really looked at the tiny human for the first time. She was so light, so fragile and helpless, but beautiful at the same time. And she was his, or at least genetically.
He placed Sarah in the crib and looked at her for a moment. Then he walked back to Jenny and noticed that her shirt was holding up. He leaned it and planned on pulling it down, but then he noticed a scar. Horizontal scar almost from her belly button to under the waistband of her pajama pants. It still looked red and angry. Then he remembered, that horizontal c-section was performed only if it was critical and she had it... Guess this birth really was hard and he wasn't there.
Gibbs looked at Jenny's pale skin and also noticed stretch marks by the scar. Those almost hid the bullet wound on the right. It happened while she was working in Europe, and he was in states. Unable to watch it anymore, he pulled the shirt down.
Then the debate started – is it better to leave her here or to risk her waking up and carrying her to bed. She'd probably be angry at him for not waking her, but he already was in a big mess. And she'd have much better sleep in the bedroom. Decided. He lifted her to his lap and stood for a moment waiting for her to wake up. She didn't. Instead just snuggled into him a little and her hands went around his neck. Slowly he carried her to the bedroom and gently put her down and climbed in with her. She snuggled into him, but carefully avoiding the contact between him and her lower abdomen.
The night came soon. Jethro had slipped out of bed to cook dinner and also he watched Sarah for awhile too, but it was his luck that she didn't wake and demand food or breast at this matter. It's something only Jenny is able to do – feed her.
Mike and Beth came home just after he had finished dinner.
"Where's mommy ?" Beth asked, when Jenny wasn't in sight.
"Sleeping. Let's not wake her unless we have to, because your little sister is already keeping her awake a lot of time," Gibbs explained.
"Are you and mommy fighting ?" Mike asked and both kids looked at their father.
"No, mommy and daddy are good," came Jenny's voice from the stairs.
"Thought you were sleeping," Gibbs said.
"I missed my kids and I'm not going to sleep through the dinner," Jenny said simply as both kids ran to hug their mom. Gibbs noticed how gentle they both really were.
The dinner was full on Beth's and Mike's chatter about their day. Jenny and Jethro remained rather quiet.
The rest of the evening was spent watching TV. Gibbs had his arm around Jenny, who was holding Sarah and the twins were both on floor enjoying the movie. The movie went quickly and it was time for bed. Gibbs read the bedtime story to twins and Jenny put Sarah to sleep. They met in the bedroom.
"You should have slapped me sooner, so I could get my priorities right," Gibbs said, when they both were in bed.
"It's not like I was so innocent too. When I got pregnant I had this undercover mission and I spent a lot of time with Tony and I might have pushed you away a little. But I think you crossed the line, when you accused me of cheating. And all that came afterward was not good at all," She said.
"I got jealous. I know DiNozzo and he is the last man who should flirt with you," Gibbs said taking in the news.
"He's a good guy you know. I like him and he is an amazing friend. Tony has much more to offer than you can think," she said.
"Okay. But let's not talk about Tony. Let's talk about us," he said and looked at her.
"I don't know what's going to happen. I guess we'll figure it out as we go on," she said.
"Right," he agreed.
She put out the lights leaving the room dark. He leaned in and their lips met. He very carefully held himself halfway over her – it's been 2 months, but she is still sore probably. The kiss remembered him one of the reasons he fell for her. She stopped him on a halfway.
"It's just a kiss goodnight," he said before kissing her again.
That night they fell asleep peacefully together with a smile on their faces.
Gibbs woke and felt that her back was aching. He opened his eyes only to discover that he is in his basement. But why is he in his basement, when he fell asleep with Jenny last night in his bed ? Then it hit him – Jenny is no longer here. She is gone.
The last time he thought that if he could change anything, he make her stay and bring her back, then now he knows, that he'd bring her back, but wouldn't force himself onto her. Their marriage would have sucked. He just experienced that. He wouldn't put her through this. But to think – if he could change just one thing – He'd bring Kate back to life and lose rule # 12.